Remembering Morris

Watercolor of Morris

Morris – Collection of the Artist

I’m still getting familiarized with the holiday schedule here in Italy. Many of the biggies correspond with those in the U.S., but others, like Father’s Day, vary significantly. So, since Italy’s Father’s Day was celebrated in March, and since I’m not receiving a barrage of advertisements for the U.S. event, Father’s Day, as I have celebrated it, almost passed me by. Tributes to dads, ramping up on FB, reminded me to pause and be thankful for being blessed with not just one, but two great dads. My birth dad, Ed Smith, died twenty-three years ago, and his passing came too soon, and the pain cut me to my core. But, soon, another wonderful dad came into my life, and his presence helped ease my pain – especially since his presence brought so much joy to my mother Liz Smith-Cox.

Morris Cox, was an extraordinary man, and a wonderful stepdad. Mom married Morris in her early 70’s, a few years after my dad’s death. I remember Liz remarking, after the first years of being married to Morris, how fortunate she was to have experienced “love like this” twice in her life. Morris made a point of telling her, everyday, how much he loved her and how fortunate he was to have her in his life. This was a powerful lesson to me, as Morris exemplified the belief in gratitude. Studies show (check out this article from Greater Good) that our brains “light up” when we remember and practice gratitude.

Morris also demonstrated an engagement with life and with keeping one’s mind and passions engaged. He was an English professor (and Dean of the Liberal Arts College) at Clemson University, yet in his 60’s he became a student again, this time of law. He practiced law (this is how he met my mom) into his 90’s.

Morris was the epitome of a fine, southern gentlemen. Whenever he and my mom were out and about (often in his baby blue Rolls Royce), he would race around to Mom’s side of the car to open the door for her. He was keen on having impeccable manners and always being kind and generous.

I am incredibly grateful for Morris’s loving presence in my life. His marriage to Liz also brought three wonderful step-siblings into my life, and we enjoyed many “big family” gatherings.

In 1999 I painted the watercolor above of Morris, after a trip with Mom and Morris, and my sisters Shelley and Dale, to Santorini, Greece. I always loved watching Morris. I found his face rich with character, intelligence and kindness. Painting him was my expression of love for this remarkable man.

Morris, I miss you. You lived an extraordinary life, and you gave handsomely.

By |2016-06-20T17:30:05+02:00June 18th, 2016|Paintings Posts, Personal musings, Uncategorized|13 Comments

About the Author:

I’m an American expat living in Italy!


  1. Anita June 20, 2016 at 5:54 pm - Reply

    Ciao Jed thank you much for opening the door yo your life with mom Liz & father Morris…People who step into our lives later are precious! Big hug Anita

    • Jed June 20, 2016 at 6:58 pm - Reply

      The loving people in our lives make us rich indeed! Thanks Anita!

  2. Cindy Moses June 20, 2016 at 12:52 am - Reply

    What a beautiful tribute to Morris! I wish I could have met him and your mother. Also a phenomenal portrait.
    Cindy Moses ( Andrea’s mom)

    • Jed June 20, 2016 at 3:22 pm - Reply

      Thank you Cindy! I’m looking forward to meeting you for the big event next year. Jed

  3. Cyndi Colzani June 19, 2016 at 4:54 am - Reply

    This is so perfectly written, not only for Morris but for all good fathers everywhere. Thank you for the perfect prelude to Fathers Day.

    • Jed June 19, 2016 at 9:57 am - Reply

      Thank you Cyndi!

  4. Deb Cox Vallance June 18, 2016 at 11:36 pm - Reply

    Thank you for this, Jed. Your graciousness, curiosity, courage, and generosity of spirit are so like Dad’s! ?(Huge compliment!!) The print of your painting of him that Mama Liz gave me, is truly one of my most loved and treasured possessions . . . We’ll keep the gratitude going.

    • Jed June 19, 2016 at 10:01 am - Reply

      I’m so glad you like this, Deb! Your dad’s loving, kind, and courageous heart lives on in you, and I’m so glad his and Liz’s marriage brought you into my life. xoxox

  5. Amy McGregor-Radin June 18, 2016 at 5:57 pm - Reply

    Beautiful tribute! And a beautiful portrait too.

  6. elizabeth wholey June 18, 2016 at 5:54 pm - Reply

    What a wonderful tribute Jed. I am lucky to have met your mother, and glad she had this happiness in her life, as I am for you, too.

    • Jed June 18, 2016 at 9:25 pm - Reply

      I’m so glad you met her, too, Elizabeth!

  7. Stephanie Meisel June 18, 2016 at 3:58 pm - Reply

    I think you picked up quite a few wonderful things from this gentleman too! Your momma was a lucky lady!

    • Jed June 18, 2016 at 9:26 pm - Reply

      I do hope a bit of Morris rubbed off on me! Xoxox

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